Commonwealth

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Commonwealth explores the complicated relationships of the Keating and Cousins families after they’re joined by infidelity, marriage, and divorce.

This book is more of a study of life rather than a novel. Instead of a protagonist, the story follows various members of a highly dysfunctional family. They lie to each other, cheat on each other, and abuse each other on various levels. Sometimes they are seeking personal gain, other times times they are seeking someone else’s downfall. It doesn’t really matter, because rather than showing how a blended family can unite and succeed, Patchett chose to show how a blended family can destroy (and enjoy) tearing itself apart from the inside out.

The plot was hard to follow. Events were uncovered out of order and the frequent flashbacks made the flow of the book choppy. The artistic decision to us a shifting POV didn’t help the cohesiveness of the story.

I know that this book received wonderful reviews, but it wasn’t for me.

Ann Patchett is a beautiful writer though, so if she’s written a more traditional novel, I’d love to read it!

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Title: Commonwealth
Author: Ann Patchett
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: May 2, 2017
When I first got the book, I thought they were peaches on the front and it reminded me of an old fashioned Savannah!
Dress: Bohme
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5 Book Marketing Resolutions

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A new year means new resolutions! Many authors have writing goals and publishing goals, but what about marketing goals?

Marketing goals are important for authors since a strong author platform can make the difference between selling books only to your family and friends and selling books around the world. Here are 5 marketing resolutions that are a great place to start in order to boost your author platform in 2018.

1. Actively participate in one writing organization

The key word is activelyThe purpose of joining an organization is to create a network of fellow writers that can help you not only strengthen your writing skills but also strengthen your circle of influence. The organization can be as simple as a local writing group or as large as a national writing organization. Remember, be involved! Participate in monthly meetings, comment on forum threads, and make yourself a positive asset to the organization’s community. When you’re ready to publish your book, this organization will be one of your strongest support groups.

2. Submit one article each month for publication consideration

It can be a magazine, website, or blog, just make sure that the media you are contacting publishes content that aligns with your genre/topic. Creating your own media list will help you track which media outlets you’ve contacted recently. Published articles increase your credibility as an author and create connections for potential book reviews/features in the future.

3. Post bi-monthly articles on your blog or website

Having fresh content on your blog or website can increase both your website traffic and subscriber count. You will become a trusted source (so make sure you do your research) in your specific genre/topic. A strong email list is one of the most beneficial things you as an author can have when you launch your book, because you already have an eager readership. If already post bi-monthly up your goal to posting weekly.

4. Attend one writing conference 

Similar to actively participating in a writing organization, a writing conference allows you to meet with specialists from all fields of writing and publishing. You will find editors, agents, publicists, and publishers who could prove to be very valuable connections. Attend a writing conference, take notes in each session, and meet as many people as possible (if you have business cards, be sure to bring them!)

5. Post daily on at least two different social media platforms

Social media is the bridge between authors and readers. Posting good content (strong photography, posts relevant to your work, current links) will help potential readers discover your work. Make sure your posts are a reflection of the genre/topic you are writing about. Having a goal to post daily will force you to plan ahead which in turn will strengthen your posts and increase your engagement rates.

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Lara Jean Song wrote five secret love letters. One to every boy she’s ever loved.

She never intended for anyone to read these letters, but when they’re delivered, Lara Jean has to open up about her feelings. As she faces current crushes and past loves, Lara Jean is forced to choose which boy will be her future.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a wonderful trilogy starring an unexpected protagonist. Lara Jean Song is a timid Korean teen. She’s not the smartest, the prettiest, or the funniest, but her little quirks (a love of baking and wearing thrifted clothes) make her a relatable and believable character.

When her love letters are mailed by her little sister (in a moment of spite), Lara Jean’s simple and quiet world gets turned upside down. Her past crushes range from the high school stud, her older sister’s ex, and a top member of the Model United Nations team. The variety of personalities and interests gives good depth and entertainment to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. 

The third book is the weakest of the series, but by the last book, I was so invested in Lara Jean’s story that I pushed through the slow parts.

If you are looking for a lighthearted read that’s filled with high school heartache and first loves, then I highly recommend To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. 

 

 

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Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: April 15, 2014
Side braids and barrettes, Lara Jean is a girl after my own heart!
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Media Lists: Choosing the Media

Book Marketing

An important part of book marketing is working with the media to generate publicity for you and your work. This publicity can be any number of things including:

  • Book Reviews
  • Author Interviews
  • Guest Posts
  • Book Features
  • Gift Guides
  • Endorsements
  • Giveaways
  • Roundups
  • Events

You want people to talk about your book, post about your book, and share content about your book. The best way to do this is through established media channels like Radio/Podcasts, television, magazines, newspapers, and blogs/websites. They already have a strong fan base, so when they share content it’s well received by hundreds if not thousands of potential book readers.

It can be daunting looking at all the different media outlets and think who will want to talk about my book?

Define Your Target Audience

The best place to start is with your target audience– the profile of the type of person who would be interested in reading your book. If you’re not sure what a target audience is, read this post: Finding Your Book’s Target Audience.

Who Shares Your Target Audience?

Next, think about who shares the same target audience as you. Look for the media that your target audience would be reading, watching, listening to, following, and engaging with.

For example, if your target audience is 30-50 year old women who go to the beach every summer and love light-read romances, you can narrow down which media to reach out to. Forbes magazine isn’t going to have the same target audience, but Woman’s Day will, and they would be interested in your book (they even do an annual Beach Read roundup).

Keep Track of Media

As you gather the media outlets you will reach out to, it’s nice to have them all on an easy-to-edit document. On my media list, I like to include the name and type of media of each outlet so I can make sure I’m getting a good balance of blogs vs. podcasts vs. magazine attention.

Below is the media list excel sheet I use when gathering outlet names. Feel free to download it and start building your own media list. You will be able to fill out columns A & B. The other columns will be discussed in a later post.

 

Media List

 

Unearthly

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Unearthly, Hallowed, and Boundless

The Unearthly series follows Clara, a teenager who learns that she is part angel. Her rare genetics have assigned her a specific purpose to fulfill on Earth; too bad she doesn’t know what that purpose is. Short visions are the only clues she has to guide her, but their ambiguous meanings leave her second guessing everything.

While seeking answers about the role she’s meant to play in life, Clara finds friends, enemies, and love.

As she battles her personal (and very real) demons, Clara works to answer one question: Does fate really exist, or will she be able to decide her own future?

This series originally started out as research reading for my own YA novel about angels and demons. It turned into a very enjoyable read and exceeded my expectations. The other angel/demon books I’ve read feature a brooding fallen angel that the “heroine” falls in love with. Unearthly took a different route by having the strongest character be the heroine. Clara does the rescuing and in truth is the only person able to rescue herself. No one can interpret her visions for her, and she has to learn how to rely on her own strengths to overcome obstacles.

Along with a strong female protagonist, this series features three equally strong plots that tie into each other well. Each book is able to carry itself. There is no weak link title in this series.

If you are looking for an exciting read where more is at stake than a broken heart, I recommend the Unearthly series!

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Title: Unearthly
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: November 1, 2011
This book is about good vs. evil, light vs. dark…hence the black. It also takes place in the wilds of Wyoming…hence the flannel.

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Finding Your Book’s Target Audience

Finding Target Audience

With so many books on the market, it’s important to find your target audience.

One of the first questions I ask an author when we’re discussing book marketing is “Who’s going to read your book?”

About 99% of the time they respond, “I hope everyone reads my book!”

While it would be nice to have every single person between the ages of 6-100 pick up your book and love it, there’s no such thing as a book for everyone. (Even Harry Potter has critics.) We all have reading preferences and are drawn to specific genres based on our own interests and background.

Your time and money will be best spent marketing to a core group of readers– the people most likely to read (and love) your book. This group of people is known as your target audience. Identifying your target audience is so important, because once you decide who you should reach out to you will be better able to decide how you should reach out to them.

Here are 4 ways I help authors define their target audience:

1. All About You

Multiple writing mentors have taught me, “Write what you know.”

Being able to draw from your personal experiences makes your writing both believable and relatable. Your life and interests are woven throughout your book (sometimes unconsciously), because you’re writing about the things that are most important to you. If you read through your manuscript, chances are you’ll find a lot of yourself in the plot and characters.

Your target audience will enjoy your book simply because it’s written by you. Friends tend to share similar interests, and the same trend applies to readers and authors. Below are a few questions to ask yourself. You’ll be able to find a part of your target audience just by going through these questions because their answers will match yours.

Yes, these are very similar to questions you might ask on a first date 🙂

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What is your favorite school subject?
  • Where did you grow up (city, country, suburbs, internationally, etc.)?
  • How do you spend your Friday nights?
  • What is your dream job?
  • What is your favorite time of year?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

2. All About Your Protagonist

We are naturally drawn to books where we relate to the main character. Whether you’re writing fiction, a memoir, or creative non-fiction, you’re going to have a protagonist, and your protagonist is going to be unique. Go through basic character development questions (beyond physical appearance), and you’ll have a nice idea as to who would read your book.

Here are a few character development bullet points to get you started. Remember your target audience will be similar to your protagonist.

  • Age*
  • Ethnicity
  • Hobbies
  • Family Life
  • Antagonist
  • Greatest Strengths
  • Greatest Weakness

*Keep in mind that young readers like to read books where the antagonist is about 2 years older than them.

3. Single Sentence Summary

Sometimes we get caught up in the sub-plots or the unimportant details of our book. Yes, your YA romance could have a protagonist whose favorite teacher is married to a doctor, but that doesn’t mean that your book will appeal to readers of medical fiction.

If you can find the barest bones of your plot, you’ll have a better idea as to who will be interested in reading your book.

Write down the basis of your book in a single sentence. State only the facts and leave out any adjectives or adverbs. Here’s my single sentence summary for a book I’m working on: Faye, an 18-year-old girl with a power that makes both the angels and demons want her, must put love aside in order to choose who she will fight for in the war for humanity. 

Now bold key words in that sentence: Faye, an 18-year-old girl with a power that makes both the angels and demons want her, must put love aside in order to choose who she will fight for in the war for humanity.  

Take a look at your key words and think about who would like this book:

  • 18-year-old- YA readers
  • Girl- Female readers
  • Power- Fiction readers
  • Angels, Demons- Supernatural readers
  • Love– Romance readers
  • Fight, War for humanity- Action readers

So, the target audience for my book would be females that enjoy YA romance about supernatural action. Yes, there are family issues in my plot. Yes, there’s also self-discovery. But, they aren’t the focus of my book, so I left them out and found my true core group of readers.

4. Comparative Titles

When thinking about your book’s target audience, always research comparative titles a.k.a. comp titles. Comp titles are books that will directly compete with yours for sales. You both will have the same genre, the same readers, the same price point, and similar packaging (i.e. paperback, hard cover, box set, etc.)

If you’re not sure what comp titles your book has, think about where your book would be shelved in a bookstore or library. If you want another reason to go to the bookstore, use “comp title research” as your excuse and browse the genre your book falls in.

Once you have a list of 3-5 comp titles, take a look at their target audience by answering these questions:

  • What is the look and feel of their book/author website? (Look at color scheme, font choice, and the content they post.)
  • Which magazines and blogs reviewed the book?
  • What types of stores did the author hold events at?
  • What are the demographics of the author’s social media followers?
  • Which organizations is the author involved in?

 

Go through each of these points, and you’ll be able to find the right readers for your book. If you focus your outreach and marketing on this specific target audience, you will see an increase in book sales and your fan following. Yes, there will be a few outliers who don’t fit your described target audience, but if you focus on your core group of readers then you can be confident in the direction of your marketing.

 

The Light Between Oceans

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The Light Between Oceans

Tom Sherbourne is the keeper of the lighthouse on Janus Rock. The island is miles away from civilization, and when Tom marries Isabel, their future revolves around the family they hope to raise in the shadow of the lighthouse.

Dreams of motherhood slip further and further away from Isabel as she buries three stillborns. In the moment of her deepest despair, a boat washes onto the shores of Janus rock carrying a dead man and beautiful healthy baby girl.

Who is the man? How did he die? Where did the boat come from? Only one question matters to Isabel: What will happen to the baby? Little Lucy becomes a part of the Sherbourne family, but as the year’s go by the other three questions are answered and the Sherbournes are again faced with “What will happen to the baby?”

This book is both beautiful and heartbreaking. I have never cried while reading a book, but The Light Between Oceans had me sobbing multiple times. The torment faced by Tom and Isabel Sherbourne is devastating. What would I do if I were told to give up the child I raised, even if I raised her under a lie?

The unfathomable struggle is what made this story so gripping, but the craftsmanship of writing is what makes this book a standout. Stedman is as much a poet as an author. The life she paints on Janus Rock is mesmerizing. Her ability turned a small island into its own world of beauty and turmoil and character.

And I know you’re not supposed to compare the book to the movie…but the movie had me bawling in the I-can’t-breathe kind of way.

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Title: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Publisher: Scribner 
Published: April 2, 2013
*Remember to check out my instagram @bookfaire for a chance to win this 5-star book!
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What’s An Author Platform?

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One of the first things I look at when we receive a book proposal is the author’s platform. Most people think that an author’s platform is their social media following, but it’s so much more! I would define it as the meaningful connections an author has that will result in book sales.

Think about it, when you go to the bookstore you’re going to be drawn to the books whose titles or cover art you recognize from Instagram or your favorite Goodreads list. When you read the author’s name and you think, “Oh, I’ve heard of this author on…” that is part of the author’s platform.

There are 6 key categories I look at when researching a potential author. I want to know all the various outlets they already have established that we could use to promote and sell the book.

  • Social Media
  • Blog/Website
  • Media Segments
  • Organizations
  • Public Speaking
  • Celebrity Connections

I ask myself a few questions while looking at each level of an author’s platform. These help me to get a better feel for the ability they have to convert connections into sales.

Social Media

  • How many followers do you have on each of your social media sites?
  • How involved are your followers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
  • How is the quality of your posts?
  • How often do you post?

Blog/Website (These questions are very similar to social media.)

  • How professional is your website?
  • What is your website’s world ranking on alexa.com?
  • How is the quality of your posts? Do you focus on a specific topic?
  • How often do you post?
  • How involved are your readers? Do they like, comment, or reshare your posts?
  • Do you have an email list? How many subscribers do you reach?

Media Segments

  • Have you recently been interviewed on television, radio, podcast, newspaper, or magazine? If so, include dates and a links to the interviews.
  • Are there any news stations, newspapers, etc. that would be willing to interview you about your book?
  • Do you guest write for any newspapers, magazines, major blogs/websites?

Organizations

  • Are you part of any credited writing organizations (i.e. SCBWI, SFWA, IBPA, etc.)? Hint: If you Google “writing organizations” you’re sure to find a group that fits your writing genre.
  • Do you participate in any annual conferences?
  • Are you involved in any national or community organizations?

Public Speaking

  • Are you an expert in a specific subject to the point that you are qualified to speak on the topic?
  • Are you represented by a speaking agency?
  • What is the general demographic of your audiences? Do you speak at corporate events, middle schools, parenting conferences, or writing workshops?
  • Are you paid to travel for speaking events?

Celebrity Connections

  • Do you personally know any “big names” that would be willing to endorse your book? (Think about the wonders an Oprah’s Book Club sticker can do for sales.)
  • If you are writing non-fiction, do you know an influential person willing to write the foreword?
  • Are you connected with any popular bloggers or social media accounts that would feature your book?

You can see from the above points that each connection will allow you to influence a new group of people. Yes, writing a standout book is important, but having a strong author platform allows people to know your standout book exists.

The Love That Split the World

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The Love That Split the World

People think Natalie Cleary might be crazy since she sees things no one else can. Are the people she sees ghosts, visions, or living nightmares? When Natalie falls in love with Beau Wilkes, she has to figure out if his odd arrival in her life is a sign that he might not be real. Now she has to solve the puzzle of how to keep her mystery love in her world.

The Love that Split the World was a quick read making it great for summer. While the plot behind the story may seem heavy (a girl is trying to make sense of a world that is literally changing before her eyes), Emily Henry managed to keep things light in the book.

The idea of having two timelines of life overlapping on earth was interesting. It was so unique! This theory is what really gave this book its rating. But then Henry added time travel, which never works for me. Going back in time and altering major events can kill a book. We invested all this time in a story, and now you’re going to go back and undo everything? Nope.

The love interest Beau Wilkes was flawless. That might sound like a good thing, but perfection is unrealistic and it made his character flat. The love was as superficial as Beau was– a love at first sight that was more of a teenage obsession than anything else.

I loved the cleverness behind the book, but the characters and relationships could have been developed a little more.

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Title: The Love That Split the World
Author: Emily Henry
Publisher: Razorbill
Published: January 26, 2016
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7 Reasons To Love Your Library Card

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When I move to a new city, one of the first places I visit is the local library to get my library card. There are so many reasons to love the library, but here are the top 7 reasons why my library card is my 2nd favorite card in my wallet (my credit card comes first).

1. Free Books (in ALL their formats)

This might sound like a no-brainer, but you can borrow library books for FREE! Who can resist free books? Before spending your money on a book you may love or you may hate, check it out from the library and make sure that it’s a title you want on your bookshelf. The library also carries e-books, audiobooks, and movie adaptations of your favorite book, so you can enjoy great stories in every format.

2. Book Sales

Most public libraries have a corner nook by the main checkout station filled with books for sale. You can look for an old favorite or a new find without having to worry about the price (most books are under $2). All proceeds from these book sales go straight back into the library so they can buy more books for you to check out. Friends of the Library also hosts an annual book sale that you don’t want to miss. The library goes through their excess or old materials including paperbacks, hardcovers, DVDs, and CDs, and sells them all for a deal.

3. Free-Shipping

Have you ever gone to a bookstore only to find they don’t carry the book you want? The cashier will tell you it’s available online…but you’ll have to pay shipping. Libraries often have an interlibrary loan program where they can request books they don’t have in their system from neighboring public libraries. They’ll notify you via email when your requested book is available and they’ll even put it on hold for you to check out.

4. Programs, Workshops, and Special Events (oh my!)

Libraries are located in the heart of the city, so they’re a great central location for meet-ups. That’s why libraries hosts weekly and monthly scheduled programs. They have everything from story time to book clubs to movie nights to computer classes. Along with their online event calendar, the library will also notify you via email of special events like guest speakers or author signings.

5. Book Launches

Speaking of author signings, public libraries love hosting authors. They’ll hold special events where they have a reading, Q & A, meet and greet, and book signing. Debut and famous authors alike love to support public libraries, so they’ll agree to doing special events there. One day when you publish your own book, keep your local library in mind when deciding on book events.

6. Peace & Quiet Time

You don’t have to have a library card to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of the library, but how can you be surrounded by all those books and not want to take a few home? If you like spending your free time at the library, you can turn it into a volunteer opportunity. Every public library has a volunteer program that allows you to get up close and personal with the books while giving back to the community. You can volunteer on a daily, weekly, or special occasion basis – like when they host their Friends of the Library Book Sale.

7. Finding New Titles

The library is a treasure chest and sometimes you walk in not knowing what you want to read. I like to wander the aisles and look for books that catch my interest. There are so many books at the library that there are bound to be a few gems you never even knew existed. You might find that an author you enjoy published a sequel book or your favorite genre has a hot new release. If the title on the spine grabs you, pull it off the shelf. If the cover grabs you, read the jacket summary. If the summary grabs you, read the first page. If you got this far, check the book out!

 

The library is a magical place. It’s one of the few places where adventure, horror, romance, and comedy are yours for the choosing. All you need to access it is a library card!